For many car owners, their windshield wipers are often neglected because they’re not necessary year-round. Depending on where you live, it’s completely understandable if you forget that you need to replace your wiper blades until you actually need to use them. Take me for example, I live in Southern California and we hardly ever see rain. I don’t know how many people I’ve come across that have their factory wiper blades on their five-year-old cars because in their mind, they don’t need to get new ones. Don’t be like them. Your windshield wipers are extremely important to your safety when driving, and you don’t want to get caught in an unexpected downpour and realize then that your visibility is terrible because your wiper blades are ineffective.
What makes it even more frustrating is how inexpensive wiper blades are compared to other general maintenance items on your vehicle. Combined with the fact that you typically only need to replace them every six months to a year (depending on where you live), you shouldn’t have an excuse on neglecting your wiper blades. You just never know when rain might show up and quality wiper blades might just save you from an accident.
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of rain or snow, you probably already have a schedule for replacing your wiper blades. But if you’re one of those people who hardly use their wipers and think they don’t need to be replaced yearly, think again. Wiper blades are mostly rubber, and rubber can degrade from exposure to the elements, including UV rays. Below, you’ll find our list of recommendations for the best windshield wipers, including one for those who endure harsh winter conditions with snow and ice.
You might be surprised to hear that wiper blades aren’t a basic product. In fact, there’s a bit of complexity to them, and when you’re shopping for a good quality replacement, there’s a surprising amount of information you can learn. Following our recommendations, we’ll give you the information you need to make the best decision, including an explanation of all the different types of wiper blades there are and how to choose the best one for you.
Since I do live in Southern California, I may seem like the last person who should be recommending you replacement wiper blades. But before moving here, I spent decades in Florida where I endured many summers full of torrential downpour and even had to drive through hurricanes (not recommended). Over the years I’ve learned how important quality wiper blades are and although I don’t use them as frequently here, I’m glad I have a good set when it does inevitably rain.
Before we go onto our recommendations, please make sure you know the size of the wiper blade you need for your vehicle and select the correct one before adding it to your cart!
1. Top pick: Bosch ICON wiper blades
The Bosch ICON is my go-to wiper blade for longevity and performance after years of trying out all kinds from different brands. Many of my car enthusiast friends who still live in Florida swear by this blade and although it is a bit more expensive, it’s worth the difference. If you endure a lot of rainy weather, you’ll be glad you paid a bit more for the quality. This windshield wiper has a patented beam design with shielded connectors, while an exclusive dual precision-tensioned steel spring helps create a fit that’s contoured to the curvature of your windshield. An asymmetrical spoiler contributes to distributing uniform downforce on the entire blade, making sure it hugs your windshield when it’s being used at higher speeds.
While Bosch does say the ICON lasts 40-percent longer than other premium blades, we still always advise checking the condition of your wiper blade rather than waiting too long to replace them. If you’re not using them everyday, the ICON will likely last you a year if you’re trying to get the most out of your wiper blades. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for all-weather performance that will keep you safe 12 months out of the year, this is it. If you deal with heavy snow and icy conditions, you may want to check out one of our later recommendations for winter wiper blades.
Still need convincing? Bosch is a major provider of parts for the automotive industry, and many automakers use Bosch for their OEM parts.
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2. Runner-up: Rain-X Latitude 2-in-1 water repellency wiper blades
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Rain-X brand, known for its water-repellent coating that can be applied to your windshield to make it more hydrophobic. If you live anywhere that sees a lot of rain, you’ll know that a bottle of Rain-X is almost a requirement in nearly every garage. So it’s little surprise that the company’s Latitude wiper blade is also a top recommendation, since the blade itself actually applies Rain-X’s water-repelling formula. It’s a 2-in-1 product that works really well in the rain.
It’s a beam-type wiper, which means it’ll contour to the curvature of your windshield for effective performance. Rain-X includes a patented universal adapter so it’s easy to install on your vehicle. The company says this wiper blade fits 96 percent of all vehicles out there and more than likely is compatible with your Porsche — just make sure you get the right size.
I’d recommend this blade to drivers who mainly deal with rain and have used Rain-X in the past, so they know what they’re getting. It might not last as long as the Bosch ICON, but its performance and price make up for that.
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3. Best on a budget: Anco 31-Series wiper blades
If you’re like me and live somewhere that hardly experiences weather conditions that require the use of your windshield wipers, then it’s understandable if you’re shopping for a budget pick. This is even more acceptable if you hardly drive when it does rain. Despite its price, the Anco 31-Series wiper blades deliver solid performance that you can rely on for that occasional rainfall. It’s a conventional blade, so it’s more affordable, and uses Anco’s exclusive Duraklear rubber compound and poly link structure for smooth and quiet operation.
Installation should be straightforward thanks to the company’s proprietary Kwik Connect installation system. The all-metal design contributes to better strength and durability, but you’ll still want to swap them out if the rubber compound is worn.
There are a lot of cheap wiper blades out there, and some may be really enticing to buy. But if you’re truly on a budget, stick with an offering from Anco.
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4. Best silicone replacement wipers: PIAA Super Silicone wiper blades
Looking for a premium pick because you want nothing but the absolute best for your car? PIAA’s Super Silicone wiper blades is my recommendation. I took a particular liking to these blades because I was a huge PIAA fan growing up as a sport compact enthusiast, and loved the company’s fog lights. Silly reason to try PIAA’s windshield wipers, I know, but it paid off. Unfortunately since I hardly deal with rain now, I prefer Bosch ICONs. But if you’re willing to pay the premium for silicone wiper blades, these are it. They will last you longer than conventional rubber blades, and you can just purchase inserts to replace the silicone rubber portion when necessary.
This particular recommendation is the company’s traditional exo-frame design, but if you prefer a frameless design, that comes with the Si-Tech model. There is also the PIAA Aero Vogue, which is a hybrid blade.
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5. Best winter windshield wipers: TRICO Ice extreme weather winter wiper blades
I had to reach out to some friends and former colleagues for this recommendation, who have had hands-on experience using a wide assortment of winter wiper blades since I’ve never lived anywhere with extreme winter weather. The answer I got is the TRICO Ice wiper blade, designed to endure extreme winter weather conditions. The high-strength rubber found on these blades is designed to resist tearing in below-freezing temperatures, and much of the feedback I received is that they live up to their claims.
Featuring a one-piece, flexible design that will conform to most windshields, the TRICO Ice is a flexible beam blade with a synthetic-blended armor to keep the blade structure away from severe weather. While I haven’t personally used these blades, I trust the opinions I received and it appears user reviews agree.
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The different types of windshield wipers
There are three main types of wiper blades: conventional, beam, and hybrid. When you’re shopping for replacement windshield wipers, you have a choice to make. Either purchase the same type that came with your vehicle, or replace it with a different type of blade, based on your personal preference. To make that decision though, you need to know the main differences.
Conventional wiper blades, as their name suggests, are the standard wiper blades you see on most vehicles. There’s a metal frame that supports a rubber blade, and generally conventional blades are the most affordable wipers. They’re simple, available everywhere, and have been around forever.
Beam blades use a frameless rubber strip designed to apply even pressure when wiping your windshield. This design allows it to contour to the shape of your windshield, with the goal of providing equal pressure points across the blade. This design is also helpful in preventing snow and ice buildup on your windshield wipers, although beam blades are typically the most expensive.
The hybrid blade is likely what you’re thinking, it combines properties from conventional and beam blades into one design. You’ll often find a plastic casing or a rubber shell on these blades and they’re great for providing all-weather performance.
Choosing what type of blade you want ultimately comes down to you and your budget. If you want some advice, I recommend beam blades if you’re living in cold climates, since the lack of a metal frame helps deal with ice and snow. If you hardly deal with rain (like me!), you can save money and get conventional blades. If you want better performance, then opt for hybrid blades if they fit your budget. Ultimately beam blades give you the best performance.
Get the right size windshield wiper
Before you buy or even shop for replacement wiper blades, make sure you know what size wipers you need. The best and easiest way to do this is to check your vehicle’s manual. Sure, there are online tools where you can select your vehicle and it’ll tell you the size, but they’re not always 100-percent accurate. If you don’t have access to your manual, local auto parts stores typically have comprehensive books or little touchpads to tell you the size you need. I find those to be a bit more trustworthy than the online fitment systems, since those stores have to deal with returns right then and there if the size is incorrect.
How to know you need new wipers
I’ve mentioned numerous times in this article that you should replace your wiper blades every six months to a year. This can be stretched out if you invested into more expensive silicone wiper blades, or your car isn’t parked outside that often and doesn’t endure the elements day-to-day. But the best way to know when you need to replace your wipers is to do a simple inspection when you’re done washing your car. Simply lift the arm of your wiper to an upright position and check for damage on the rubber blade. If you see any cracking or hardening, it’s time to replace your wipers. Of course if you’re using them and experiencing any sort of chattering, streaking, or they’re just not doing a very good job keeping your windshield clear, get to shopping.
Can I extend the life of my wiper blades?
- Like anything else on your car, taking good care of your wiper blades can extend their life. Here are some tips:
- Wipe down your wiper blades each time you wash your car, or once every few weeks. This helps keep them clean and prevents damage when they’re used.
- If you live somewhere that experiences ice, make sure you use an ice scraper to remove any ice from your blades.
- Do your best to avoid parking your car underneath direct sunlight. Those UV rays can ruin the rubber and plastic found on your windshield wipers.
- Use a proper glass cleaner and keep your windshield clean so your wipers aren’t coming in contact with debris that can damage them.
Updated (2:16 p.m. EST, 12/14/2022): Added additional shopping links for our recommendations. Added another FAQ.